CLEVELAND — Boating really took off during the pandemic, with people looking for new ways to enjoy the outdoors at a safe social distance. The trend hasn't really died down, but inventory is finally back to pre-pandemic levels.

What You Need To Know

  • The Cleveland Boat show is back at the I-X center through January 21

  • Boats were in high demand but low supply during the pandemic

  • There is more to choose from this year as inventory returns to pre-pandemic levels

That's expected to draw big crowds to the Cleveland Boat Show at the I-X Center. Captain Jeannette Lloyd said planning for the next show starts as soon as the current show ends.

"It's a process," Lloyd said. "I mean, I think we all take really that first week to debrief and capture that information that we learned from the previous show."

Lloyd said one of the biggest challenges of the show is getting hundreds of boats through the doors of the I-X center in just two-and-a-half days. 

"But I always remind everybody that it's a boat show, not brain surgery," she said. "So this is fun. And if you're not having fun, you're doing it wrong."

The show isn't just for people looking to buy a boat. It also includes workforce development for people interested in boat-related trades.

"All of the different dealers that are here, we’ve asked them, what jobs are you hiring for? What are you guys looking for? What type of crew do you need? Send us that information," Lloyd said.

Buckeye Sports Center is one of the vendors at the show. Jim Armington said the Cleveland Boat Show is always one of their biggest events of the year.

"We really anticipate the boat show this year being the strongest in several years because of the fact that there is more product out there," Armington said. "And I think people are excited about getting back out on the water." 

He said he also likes to be able to check out so many boats in one space.

Lloyd agreed and said the show also provides a taste of summer during the long winter months.

"It's truly just an awesome time to meet with your different boating friends and friends in the industry and have a drink, listen to some live music and play on boats in January," she said.